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Preview: United looking to pressure rivals with victory over Villa after League Cup defeat

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Manchester United -v- Aston Villa

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 25 September 2021, KO 12:30 BST

Referee: Mike Dean Assistants: Darren Cann, Eddie Smart

Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury

VAR: Andy Madley Assistant VAR: Simon Beck

Manchester United will return to Premier League action on Saturday as they welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford in a match that has been brought forward from a traditional 3pm kick off because of other events in the area later in the day – The Courteeners have a gig at Old Trafford Cricket Club in the evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking for another victory in the Premier League, this time at home as the club seek to do better than last season. The club lost six times in the league with all the defeats at the Theatre of Dreams, which cost them a challenge with Manchester City for the title. This season could be so much different.

United were beaten in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening at the hands of West Ham United, whose only goal of the match was enough for United to be knocked out of the competition. United did have 27 shots on goal though and played a lot better than the Hammers, who now face Manchester City in the fourth round. United though, will have a week’s rest between the matches against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the last week of October, unless any matches need to be rearranged and with those matches between the double header against Atalanta in the Champions League, United are better off.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LWLWWD

West Ham United 1-0 L, West Ham United 2-1 W, BSC Young Boys 2-1 L, Newcastle United 4-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 W, Southampton 1-1 D

Goals: 4 – Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo, 3 – Mason Greenwood, 2 – Jesse Lingard, 1 – Fred

Assists: 7 – Paul Pogba, 1 – Bruno Fernandes, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane

Aston Villa – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LWLDWW

Chelsea 1-1 (4-3 penalties) L, Everton 3-0 W, Chelsea 3-0 L, Brentford 1-1 D, Barrow 6-0 W, Newcastle United 2-0 W

Goals: 4 – Cameron Archer, 3 – Anwar El Ghazi, 2 – Danny Ings, 1 – Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendía, Matty Cash, Own Goal, Frédéric Guilbert, John McGinn

Assists: 2 – Anwar El Ghazi, Danny Ings, 1 – Leon Bailey, Matty Cash, Frédéric Guilbert, Douglas Luiz, Tyrone Mings, Jaden Philogene-Bidace

Previous meetings with Aston Villa and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Villa have bet a total of 52 times in the Premier League with United winning 37 matches, drawing 12 and Villa winning just three times. United have scored 97 goals, winning six penalties, scoring just five of them. Villa have scored just 31 goals, winning one penalty and scoring it. United have kept a total of 27 clean sheet with Villa keeping just six. Discipline seems to be a problem with United players being shown 75 yellow cards and three red cards with Villa players being shown 72 yellow cards and four red cards. Last season, United beat Villa twice; 2-1 at Old Trafford and 3-1 at Villa Park.

Villa and United both have history with many players wearing the shirts of both teams through the years. Axel Tuanzebe is the most recent, although he is on loan and will not be eligible to face United. Ron Atkinson, a former United manager, played for both United and Villa. Peter Schmeichel also played for Villa a year after leaving United. Eric Djemba-Djemba, Mark Bosnich, Dwight Yorke and Ashley Young, who left Villa for United, then Inter Milan and re-signed for Villa this summer. Tom Cleverley was once loaned to Villa, Steve Bruce is a former manager of theirs and Roy Keane an assistant manager.

Team News: Rashford and Amad still on the sidelines, Cavani close to making a return but eight players have been rested ahead of this match so United will be raring to go against the Villa.

Marcus Rashford (Shoulder) and Amad Diallo (Thigh) are the only two players currently on the sidelines through injury for United. Rashford has been back in training for a number of weeks but he will not be rushed back into action. It is expected that both players will be back after the second international break of the season. Edinson Cavani was pencilled in to face West Ham in the Carabao Cup but he had not trained enough prior to the match. He does have a 25% chance of being fit for the Villa match. That said, David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Fred and Cristiano Ronaldo have been fully rested.

Trézéguet (Knee), Keinan Davis (Knee) and Morgan Sanson (Muscular) have been ruled out of the trip to Old Trafford to face United on Saturday afternoon. Matt Targett (Abductor) and John McGinn (Head) have a 50% chance in being fit to face United with Leon Bailey (Thigh) having a 25% chance and will probably have to go through late fitness tests ahead of the match. Villa were defeated by Chelsea in the third round of the Carabao Cup on penalties on Wednesday evening and could have more problems with fatigue. Perhaps Ashley Young will face United but Axel Tuanzebe, who is on loan from United is not eligible to face his club.

Predicted Starting XI: Ronaldo, Pogba, Fernandes, McTominay, Fred, Maguire, Varane, Shaw and De Gea to all be back in the starting XI against Villa?

After the defeat to West Ham on Wednesday evening, which saw United knocked out of the Carabao Cup this season will give United a break here and there this autumn and winter but it has set United back to the point where they will need to get back to winning ways. Solskjaer made 11 changes against the Hammers from he Premier League victory over the club, so there will be fresh legs available on Saturday, which will give United the advantage. That said, a few of the players from Wednesday should be given the chance in this match based on what they offered and how they played. United never gave up which was admirable.

David De Gea could be back in goal for United, which is positive sign based on his performances so far this season. In defence, I believe Diogo Dalot did enough to win his place against Villa, keeping Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the bench. Luke Shaw will be back in the left-back position and both Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire will complete the defence. In midfield, Scott McTominay and Fred will be back in action with Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood playing in the attacking midfield positions. Cristiano Ronaldo will be back leading the line for United as the club looks to add pressure to Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.

Match Prediction: United did the double over Villa last season, winning 2-1 at home and 3-1 away and Solskjaer will be seeking similar victories over the Birmingham club this season.

United beat Villa twice in the Premier League last season, winning 2-1 at Old Trafford and 3-1 at Villa Park. In the home match, Anthony Martial opened the scoring in the 40 minute of the match, assisted by Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Bertrand Traore equalised in the 58th minute, assisted by Jack Grealish and Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty three minutes later to win the match for United. At Villa Park, Traore opened the scoring in the 24th minute of the match and Fernandes equalised from the spot in the 52nd minute. Mason Greenwood put United ahead in the 56th minute with Edinson Cavani securing the win in the 87th minute.

Solskjaer will be seeking to get all three points in this match too, keeping his Premier League record at Old Trafford this season intact. United have beaten Leeds United 5-1 and Newcastle United 4-1 at the Theatre of Dreams in the league, and will be looking to continue those results as the club seek to better their home performances, losing six times, all at home, in the Premier League last season. If Solskjaer can turn Old Trafford into a fortress once again, United will be hated by the opposition, talked about negatively in the media which will mean everything is going to plan this season.

Manchester United 3-1 Aston Villa

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW